Medical cannabis company in Kitchener a family operation

In a new take on the family farm, a medical marijuana producer in Kitchener is run by three siblings, a wife, a cousin and is named for their grandfather.

James E. Wagner Cultivation is a family business perhaps unlike any other

Nathan Woodworth is the CEO of James E. Wagner Cultivation in Kitchener. His company, which he runs with the help of his brother Adam Woodworth and sister Laura Foster, grows medical cannabis and was recently awarded a license from Health Canada. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Farming might be the oldest family business, but a Kitchener family has a new take on the tradition.

Nathan Woodworth is the CEO of James E. Wagner Cultivation, a medical cannabis company that recently received a license from Health Canada to produce medical marijuana. It's the first licensee in Waterloo region and the 38th in Canada.

Helping Woodworth to grow this business is his brother Adam Woodworth, who oversees the growing and health of the plants, and his sister Laura Foster, a "jack of all trades" for the company doing everything from public relations to answering phones to helping with the crop.

As well, Nathan Woodworth's wife, Krysta, works at the company and the siblings' cousin, Dan Bexton, is the company's IT master.

Grandpa Jim's influence

The company uses a unique aeroponic technique to grow its plants in a warehouse facility in south Kitchener.

"JWC is the first entirely aeroponic producer of cannabis in Canada," Nathan Woodworth said during the tour.

It's an advanced technique that gives them control of the plants' growth cycle.

"As a result, we can produce a medicine which is more standardized, it's a better quality, it's cleaner than our competitors," Woodworth said.

The siblings got their love of growing plants from their grandpa Jim, after whom the company is named. He grew a variety of crops on a farm near Tillsonburg, Ont. 

"I believe that if we hadn't had that background, we wouldn't have been as eager to engage in this sort of activity," Woodworth said. "We wouldn't have had that empathy for the growth of plants."

Laura Foster holds up their license from Health Canada to produce medical marijuana. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)